By Sean Palmerston
Love them or loathe them, it’s impossible to deny the influence Motörhead has had on heavy music. What started as a project to keep Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister busy after his dismissal from psychedelic warlords Hawkwind, the band has become an institution, its influence stretching far beyond its own limits. This exhaustive collection, 99 tracks over five discs, pays tribute to Kilmister’s vision, dedication and drive that sees the band as popular as ever after more than a quarter century together. Of course, Lemmy himself is the only remaining original member, he has been the one cohesive feature that holds it together: no Lemmy, no Motörhead, it’s that simple. Of the five discs, the first four follow the band from inception, starting with Hawkwind’s “Motorhead” and are broken down into specific time periods. Each CD loosely covers about six years in the band’s career, each finding the band sounding a little different but remaining Motörhead. It’s interesting to chronicle the different periods: the blues-based infancy with Pink Fairies guitarist Larry Wallis; the “classic” trio with guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke and drummer Philthy Animal Taylor that managed a number one UK album with No Sleep Till Hammersmith; the premature hiring of Thin Lizzy axe-man Brian Robertson for one album and his insistence on wearing pink shorts onstage and bizarre attitudes towards the band’s past; the twin-guitar Orgasmatron line-up with Wurzel and Phil Campbell and the most recent version of the band (from 1996 on) with Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee. The fifth live compilation CD features songs from 1978 to 1999. And as for the music? Most of the favourites are here. It’s hard to argue with the collection, although there are some songs that definitely could have been included in place of others. Minor quibbles aside, this is a great collection that features enough rarities and previously unreleased material (including a great four song Peel session from 1980 and BBC sessions from ’80 and ’86) that on musical merits alone this would be worth purchasing. Add in a 60-page booklet that features a new essay from former Kerrang! scribe Mick Wall, a complete band discography and tons of rare photos and anecdotes and this is a must have for any Motorhead completist.
Originally published by Exclaim! in December, 2003.